Belfast Telegraph

Montserrat Caballe: The opera diva ‘who could do everything’

She was admired around the world for her versatility.

Montserrat Caballe was singing Bach cantatas at just seven years old.

The Spanish operatic soprano, who has died aged 85, was born in Barcelona to a working-class family.

She was admired around the world for her versatility and as one of the greatest opera stars to have graced the stage.

Caballe starred in 90 opera roles with nearly 4,000 performances.

She had her first major role, as Mimi in Puccini’s La Boheme, at the Basel Opera in Switzerland, where she stayed from 1956 to 1959 before heading to Bremen in Germany.

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Opera singer Montserrat Caballe (Rosie Hallam)

The opera star, who was accepted for tuition in a Barcelona music conservatory as a child, had her international breakthrough in 1965, in a performance of Lucrezia Borgia at the Carnegie Hall in New York.

Caballe had to fill-in for the role at only a month’s notice but won a 25-minute standing ovation.

The diva, who was known for the purity of her voice, performed at venues around the world, including the Glyndebourne Festival in East Sussex, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, La Scala, Milan, and the Royal Opera House.

In 1964, she married tenor Bernabe Marti and one of their children, Montserrat Marti, is also a soprano.

Caballe also had a huge impact on the world of pop with the track Barcelona, which she recorded with Freddie Mercury.

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Freddie Mercury and Monserrat Caballe (Tim Ockenden/PA)

The 1987 collaboration later featured at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, after the Queen frontman’s death.

In 2015, Caballe was given a six-month suspended prison sentence for tax fraud.

The singer had admitted that she lived in Spain but had been registered in Andorra for tax purposes.

In her performances, her versatility astounded fellow opera stars, with tenor Jose Carreras telling Catalunya Radio: “She could do everything from the purest bel canto all the way to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde.”

She also performed alongside the likes of Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo.

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